In a case called VanDerStok v. Garland, Judge Reed O’Connor struck down the ATF’s rule regulating frames and receivers – a significant victory in this litigation. The decision could potentially effect the pistol brace rule as well.
The case originated in August, 2022, with plaintiffs Tactical Machining, LLC, and FPC (Firearms Policy Coalition), represented by the FPC Action Foundation and Mountain States Legal Foundation. Since then, several intervenor plaintiffs joined the suit, including Blackhawk Manufacturing Group, Polymer80, and Defense Distributed.
In his decision, Judge O’Connor found that the ATF’s rule was facially invalid based upon the fact that Congress has not given the ATF authority to create such rules or regulations. He granted a motion for summary judgment and vacated the entire rule nation-wide.
“This case presents the question of whether the federal government may lawfully regulate partially manufactured firearm components, related firearm products, and other tools and materials in keeping with the Gun Control Act of 1968,” wrote Federal District Court Judge Reed O’Connor in his Order.
Continuing, he wrote, “Because the Court concludes that the government cannot regulate those items without violating federal law, the Court holds that the government’s recently enacted Final Rule, Definition of “Frame or Receiver” and Identification of Firearms, is unlawful agency action taken in excess of the ATF’s statutory jurisdiction. On this basis, the Court vacates the Final Rule.”
Judge O’Connor’s decision did not address the constitutionality of the rule, but rather the legality of the rule based upon the Gun Control Act’s own stipulations.
In a concise, yet poignant analysis, Judge O’Connor points out the ATF’s ridiculous position:
As the Court previously explained, the issue in this case is whether ATF may properly regulate a component as a “frame or receiver” even after ATF determines that the component in question is not a frame or receiver. It may not. Logic dictates that a part cannot be both a receiver and receiver at the same time. Defendants’ reliance on that logical contradiction is fatal to their argument.”
It’s fully expected that the ATF will appeal the decision to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.